Winter 2018 Seminar Series - ISR 1430

Brenda Major
Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

University of California, Santa Barbara

The Health Costs of Weight Stigma
Monday October 30, 2017 (2:00 PM - 3:00 PM)

America's war on the “obesity epidemic” is intensifying stigmatization of people with heavy and obese bodies. Many lay individuals and health professionals believe that “a little stigma is a good thing’ – i.e. that stigmatizing carrying excess weight motivates people to engage in healthier eating habits and promotes weight loss. I will review a growing body of research showing that this strategy is not only ineffective, but is backfiring. Experiencing or anticipating being stigmatized based on one’s weight increases physiological stress, undermines self-regulation, compromises psychological health, and increases motivations to avoid stigma and escape stigma that have negative health implications. Furthermore, experiencing weight-based stigma leads to weight gain and poorer physical health outcomes, controlling for actual body weight.

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